Irish queer artist Eimear Walshe launches powerful exhibition at Venice Biennale

Walshe's exhibition has been described as “a multi-channel video installation and an operatic soundtrack house in an immersive earth-built sculpture.”

Queer Irish artist Eimear Walshe.
Image: Instagram @eim.jpg, Queer Irish artist Eimear Walshe presented their ROMANTIC IRELAND exhibition at the 2024 Biennale Arte in Venice this morning.

The 60th annual Biennale Arte kicks off this Saturday, April 20, in Venice, Italy, featuring work from Irish queer artist Eimear Walshe. The Biennale Arte is a high-profile international art exhibition held at La Biennale di Venezia museum, which is known as one of the most famous and prestigious cultural institutions in the world.  

Eimear Walshe, a queer artist from Cork, was chosen to represent Ireland at this year’s Biennale Arte exhibition last June. At the time, Catherine Martin TD, the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media, announced that Project Arts Centre’s Sara Greavu would be joining Walshe at the exhibition as a curator. 

Martin’s department made an announcement today, April 18, to announce that Walshe and Greavu’s exhibition ROMANTIC IRELAND, in partnership with the Project Arts Centre, was unveiled in Venice today. The Biennale Arte doesn’t open to the public until this weekend.

Attending the opening today was Maureen Kennelly, Director of the Arts Council. Kennelly unveiled the exhibition this morning, which has been described as “a multi-channel video installation and an operatic soundtrack house in an immersive earth-built sculpture.”

According to e-flux, the exhibition explores “the complex politics of collective building through the Irish tradition of the meitheal: a gang of workers, neighbours, kith and kin who come together to build, harvest and cooperate in mutual aid. It depicts a frenzied and fraught engagement with the ancient labour-intensive practice of earth building, a form of construction with an 11,000 year history and local iterations across the world.”

Walshe’s exhibition comes as part of this year’s ‘Foreigners Everywhere’ theme at the 2024 Biennale Arte. The theme was selected by Adriano Pedrosa, the curator of this year’s international exhibition. 



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Following the unveiling of Walshe’s ROMANTIC IRELAND exhibition, Minister Martin said: “I am very pleased that Ireland in Venice 2024 is now open with the exhibition ROMANTIC IRELAND representing Ireland at the 60th Venice Biennale. I want to wish the artist Eimear Walshe, Curator Sara Greavu, and Project Arts Centre the very best of luck as they represent Ireland at the 2024 Venice Biennale.

“This is an enormous achievement and opportunity for both artist and country. Participation at the Venice Biennale increases awareness of Ireland’s strong visual arts sector and provides the artist with an international platform for their work.”

Eimear Walshe is the latest in a long line of talented Irish artists to represent the country at the La Biennale di Venezia, with artists like Niamh O’Malley, Eva Rothschild, and Jesse Jones presenting their exhibitions in years past. 

It has similarly been announced that Walshe’s ROMANTIC IRELAND exhibition will tour Ireland in 2025, following the end of its presentation in Venice. A film documentary of the project is currently also in production. 

More information on Eimear Walshe, Sara Greavu, the Biennale Arte, and the ROMANTIC IRELAND exhibition can be found here

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